Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hey, Marketer! Got An Idea? Read This Before You Pitch It to Anybody.

The Art of the Imperfect Pitch, a compelling article from Professor Baba Shiv at Stanford Graduate School, tells us exactly how to sell our ideas to other people. Shiv bases his advice on brain research, especially that of American neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky..

To put it simply, Shiv describes the "X framework" wherein anxiety and fear and contentment oppose one another on the bottom and, on the top, excitement opposes apathy). If, while facing a decision, a person is fundamentally anxious or fearful, that decider will seek to avoid additional stress by "playing it safe." If, on the other hand, the decider is feeling contented, he or she is ready for some risk or excitement -- in other words, open to a new idea.

In a nutshell:
Those with ideas to sell, should avoid pitching their ideas to anxious/fearful colleagues who are predisposed to apathy and likely to retreat from change or risk. Rather, the pitch should be directed to a contented colleague -- a "champion," if you will -- who is open to excitement and change.

Shiv suggests that ideas be pitched in draft or incomplete form, not in full-blown detail. Why? As Shiv puts it, "I have observed time after time that if you build a polished prototype, others will see flaws. If you build a rough prototype, they will see potential."

Here is a final key point from Shiv:
"So, from an innovation standpoint, you must discern where your ultimate target manager is on this X Framework. The tip here is that people habitually ride one pathway or the other. Type I personalities are those who instinctually stay on a groove between stress and comfort. These people typically fear making mistakes. In contrast, what I call the Type II personalities are those who tend to move between boredom and excitement … I have found that chief marketing officers and chief information officers, tend to be Type IIs."

And who are the Type Is? The maintenance folks like the information technology managers and chief operating officers.

We knew it was true and now we know why.

Source: Morning Advantage newsletter (September 6) from Harvard Business Review

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